Because life is a series of edits

Archive for March, 2007|Monthly archive page

Things I’m Looking Forward to in the Next Week

In Pop Culture on March 30, 2007 at 1:57 pm

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(Photo taken by Megan at The Butterfly House; thanks to our landlord for the free tix)

Here are some coming highlights for the next seven days:

  • Playing with my kids and mowing the yard on Saturday (with the rain we just had, we’re going to lose our three-year-old if I don’t)
  • Watching the first day of baseball season on Sunday (in particular, the Cardinals‘ first day, that is if it’s being broadcasted locally)
  • Seeing and catching up with my high schoolers after their week of Spring Break on Monday (I miss the little buggers)
  • Having a normal academic day on Tuesday (it’s been a while since we’ve had a “normal” anything around here)
  • Taking my second Reformation and Modern Church History exam on Wednesday (okay, so there’s not much else going on on Wednesday)
  • Finishing up my Good Friday homily on Thursday (no classes because of Maundy Thursday, so this will be a nice day of study and prep)
  • Giving my Good Friday homily at Memorial‘s service on Friday (my parents are coming down for part of the weekend, so that will be fun, too)

Of course, celebrating Easter will be the best of all next Sunday, but that falls outside the seven-day window (technicalities, you know). Anything you’re looking forward to in the next week?

God’s Common Grace

In Thought on March 29, 2007 at 6:55 pm

From Calvin and Common Grace by John Owen:

“How is it that men who still lie under the wrath and curse of God and are heirs of hell enjoy so many good gifts at he hand of God? How is it that men who are not savingly renewed by the Spirit of God nevertheless exhibit so many qualities, gifts, and accomplishments that promote the preservation, temporal happiness, cultural progress, social and economic improvement of themselves and of others?…How is it that this sin-cursed world enjoys so much favor and kindness at the hand of its holy and ever-blessed Creator?”

Learner’s thoughts exactly, he says. “Common grace is so unfair.”

Learning from My Methodist Roots

In Church, Theologians on March 28, 2007 at 11:41 am

My Reformation and Modern Church History class readings took a somewhat familiar turn today, focusing on the person and teaching of John Wesley, founder of Methodism.

I grew up Methodist, but experienced few intentional and traditional characteristics of Methodism to really know what it was. The small town church of my youth was not (nor is) a church of denominational distinctives, which was both good and bad: doctrine was never a source of division in the church, but that was largely because of the general lack thereof. Coming out of this kind of theological vacuum, I suppose it’s no surprise I warmed to the tenets of Reformed theology in college, and now attend a Reformed seminary and church 15 years later.

That said, I confess there’s a part of me that really resonates with certain aspects of Methodism, and (especially) Wesley himself. Historically, the Methodist movement appealed to the middle- and lower-class folk, particularly those settlers whose uprooted population lacked traditional ecclesiastical links, and whom the older churches seldom reached. Wesley’s use of “connections” and “circuits” in an effort to provide and foster community was cutting edge for the time, and the Methodists’ passion for those on the new frontiers – combined with the administration and organization to support it – has always been something I’ve admired about early Methodism, as it appeals to both my zeal and my obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

While I don’t agree with all of Wesley’s theology (in particular his Arminian leanings), nor some of his overly-pragmatic practices of utilizing lay preachers beyond the need of the hour (though this was more his mother’s idea than his), the Reformed tradition could learn much from his perspective of ecumenism and fellowship across denominational lines. From The Works of John Wesley, pages 340-347:

“The distinguishing marks of a Methodist are not his opinions of any sort…as to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity, we think and let think.

I, and all who follow my judgment, do vehemently refuse to be distinguished from other men, by any but the common principles of Christianity – the plain, old Christianity that I teach, renouncing and detesting all other marks of distinction.

By these marks, by these fruits of a living faith, do we labor to distinguish ourselves from the unbelieving world, from all those whose minds or lives are not according to the Gospel of Christ. But from real Christians, of whatsoever denomination they be, we earnestly desire not to be distinguished at all, not from any who sincerely follow after what they know they have not yet attained.

Dost thou love and serve God? It is enough. I give thee the right hand of fellowship.”

Now there’s a message we Reformed folk could stand hearing a few (thousand) more times…

Lawnmower Shuffle (classic mix)

In Musicians on March 26, 2007 at 6:18 pm

Part of our “deal” in living in our house is the privilege of mowing the yard, which I did Sunday afternoon. I have many fond memories of lawnmowing from my youth, when mowing the yard on the farm was the equivalent of four solid hours of riding my Dad’s John Deere riding mower, never without with my imitation Sony Walkman blaring the hits.

I always felt I did some of my best thinking on the lawnmower, but the best part of mowing (both then and especially now) is the instant progress one makes in doing it. The size of our lawn here in St. Louis doesn’t demand a riding mower by any means, but it did take a good 45 minutes or so with a used push mower we got off Craig’s List to do the job.

I’ve evolved from listening to music on cassettes, but not from the joy of listening to music while walking the weeds (er, grass). In alphabetical order by song title, and with the task of tending God’s creation in mind, here’s my official iPod Lawnmower Shuffle (classic mix) from yesterday:

  • Beautiful Day – U2
  • Blowin’ In The Wind – Bob Dylan
  • (The) Color Green – Rich Mullins
  • I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow – The Soggy Bottom Boys
  • I Walk The Line – Johnny Cash
  • MMMBop – Hanson
  • Never Is Enough – Barenaked Ladies
  • Our House – Madness
  • Pink Houses – John Mellencamp
  • Pray For Rain – PFR
  • Roam – The B-52’s
  • Suburbia – Pet Shop Boys
  • Summer Nights – Van Halen
  • Summer Of ’69 – Bryan Adams
  • Sunny Day – Mary Cutrufello
  • Walk Of Life – Dire Straits

Good times, good times.

Spring Break Broke

In Family, Vacation on March 25, 2007 at 1:02 pm

Spring Break is over (thank the Maker), so as promised, I’m back. For those of you who enjoy true stories of life going very, very wrong, here’s a summary of the past week.

The break started off well enough: things getting done, papers getting written (and a few graded), pages getting read. This went on through Wednesday and, while there always seemed more to do, the progress was good.

Then Wednesday night hit…and Spring Break broke. I came down with what felt like a bout of gout in my left foot – the pain was so bad that I couldn’t walk on it at all. I thought about self-amputating, but I wasn’t sure our knives were sharp enough.

On Thursday morning, I went to get it looked at an Urgent Care (which was neither). After two hours and three X-rays to check for possible broken bones, I was declared healthy. This, however, did not help my foot, so the doc (who didn’t want to hear any self-diagnosis talk that it might be gout) semi-grudingly wrote a prescription for gout anyway and sent me on my way.

We were due to leave for Branson after lunch that afternoon, so when Megan picked up the prescription at Walgreen’s, she also got a set of crutches in case the drugs didn’t work. Then, in great pain and with crutches in hand (or under arms), we loaded up the van and set out for two days of Spring Break fun (darn it) at Grand Country Square.

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A word on Branson (and this is NOT brought to you by the Branson Tourism Center): I am NOT a fan. Branson is Hee-Haw on steroids; it’s a (very) poor man’s Vegas. The place is one big buffet (pronounced “boo-fay”) line after another, complete with guests attired in thoughtful black T-shirts that read “Save the drama for your mama,” “Rub my tummy for good luck,” and one that Megan (who planned the trip) promised to buy me if we ever came back: “I didn’t say it was your fault, just that I’m blaming you.”

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This (yes, all this) goes on for miles on both sides of Branson’s Highway 76 (Main Street), and its two (count ’em, two) perpetually-crowded lanes that run between dozens of aesthetically-blah theaters with lots of parking spaces all around that look like your local semi-megachurch building down the street (minus the giant billboards and “buy tickets here” signs).

Being the tourists that we aren’t, we decided to play it safe and stay within our little compound at Grand Country. Sure, the waterpark (building, really) was fun for the girls, and I got to watch a lot of the NCAA tournament, but the real highlight (at least for the eight-and-under set) was Grand Country’s Amazing Pets performance, featuring Sean Paul, his wife Julianne, and their “child,” Frankie the monkey. Also featured were Stanley the Usher (who was actually funny, in a “I’m just playing the part of an usher” kind of way), The Amazing Valari (who worked with the cats – that is, the housecats), and Larry the Birdman (who, when his birds didn’t complete their tricks – which was most of the time – did the tricks for them).

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The show was so bad it was good, and the girls thought it was the greatest thing since breakfast (which it was, as we saw the 10 a.m. performance). Thankfully, the drugs worked wonders on my foot, and we made plans to spend the rest of the day and next morning playing in the water, but then two of the four girls came down with some vomit-inducing virus that began taking them out one at a time. It wasn’t pretty.

When we just couldn’t take it anymore, we packed up the van and headed back to St. Louis, stopping every 45 minutes to deal with someone’s puke. It was true family bonding, and Megan and I just semi-laughed all the way home as it was obvious we had done it again – made our best effort to do something fun as a family, only to have it miss by a mile our expectations.

We ARE the Griswolds, and my name is Clark. If we ever invite you to do anything or go anywhere with us, say no and run away…run very, very far away.

Breaking for Spring

In Family, Holidays, Seminary on March 16, 2007 at 11:59 am

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Covenant‘s Spring Break officially starts today, amounting to a ten-day break (if you include weekends) that comes at a very good time to catch up on some reading, start three papers, and grade the tower-like stack of Apologetics and Pastoral Theology papers sitting on my desk (shown above). Toward the end of the ten days, Megan and I are taking the girls to Branson for a couple days/nights of R&R, but that seems a ways off in light of what lies just ahead.

A slight rub is that Wildwood‘s Spring Break doesn’t line up with Covenant’s (it’s the week after next), so I still have to prep and be in town to teach my Bible class next week. But, as we had no real travel plans anyway (Daytona Beach with four children – can you imagine?), I’m just looking at the unaligned schedules as God’s sovereign provision of two much lighter weeks instead of one empty one. And that works for me.

Growing up, I didn’t have Spring Breaks in high school, and I didn’t do a whole lot with them (at least in terms of big travel or experiences) even when I did at Mizzou. Looking back, I don’t remember really needing any kind of time off (though I’m sure I thought I did then), as neither my high school nor college educations were half as rigorous (nor as complicated with a wife and four children) as seminary, which is why I’m glad for Spring Break now.

That said, I’m going to refrain from blogging during the break, giving you a respite from my various meanderings and letting my head clear a bit. Looking back over the last couple weeks’ worth of posts, my topics have ranged from counseling therapies to postmodernism to education to immigration to social injustice – all a little heavy in their essences (though I hardly did justice to any of them in my writing) – and I want to avoid taking myself too seriously by continuing along these same lines, at least for now.

Granted, my provacative post on Daylight Saving Time garnered the most comments, presumably for its fiery controversy and paradigm-shifting brilliance (or maybe just because I put my foot in my mouth with my friend Chelsea and had to dig myself out of a hole with multiple comments). Regardless, the point I’m trying to make is that I need a break, and now seems a good time to take one.

So, check back in ten days or so and we’ll reconnect. And, since I haven’t done this for a while, let me say thanks to those of you who stop by on a regular basis (or even at all) to read my thoughts. It’s a privilege and treat to throw a few ideas out there and interact a bit with you over them. I hope it’s as fun and therapeutic for you as it is for me.

PS: Should you miss me too much and go through some kind of withdrawal while I’m away, I’ve posted our family update for the month of March here. It’s okay – I’ll be back (really).

Therapy, Counseling, and Drugs (Oh, My!)

In Humanity, Seminary on March 15, 2007 at 5:54 pm

“Personality disorders are among the most problematic and vexing disorders
the pastor is likely to face in his or her day-to-day life in the church.”

The Pastor’s Guide to Psychological Disorders and Treatments, pg. 74

“I’m schizophrenic, but we’re better now.”
T-Shirt for sale at Union Station

Reading The Pastor’s Guide for my Intro to Counseling class, I began to wonder if I should change degree programs, forsaking the M. Div. and going more the M.A.C. route. After all, if indeed “every pastor…regularly encounters pastoral care issues that require counseling intervention,” (xi) and “the average pastor reports spending between 10 percent and 46 percent of his or her time counseling,” (1) why not cut to the chase, forget trying to pass Beginning Hebrew (which I’ve failed twice already), and get a counseling degree? Megan says I’d be as good or better at it as at pastoring. What do we need pastors for anyway (other than to refer parishioners to counselors)?

This was one thought I came away with after reading The Pastor’s Guide. While quite helpful in better understanding the areas of psychological disorders, maladaptive personalities, family distress, and the mental health industry in general, I felt that the guide seemed more a justification as to why pastors should simply refer parishioners to therapy, rather than as a handbook to help pastors in their actual counseling. While I’m not switching degree programs (at least not until I try Hebrew one more time), I do still have questions pertaining to differences between pastoring and counseling people, and how those might one day play themselves out in any church ministry I might lead.

Make no mistake: I’m not coming from a purely Nouthetic perspective, nor do I have anything against using medications for the treatment of chemical problems (though that wasn’t always the case). I see a psychiatrist myself every quarter and have been taking an anti-depressant for a year-and-a-half now that has seemed helpful. I also see a student counselor in the M.A.C. program here once a week, as well as meet with at least one of my pastors or elders every other week, and believe there’s freedom to do all this in the name of redeeming what God has created, but is fallen – me, in other words.

I don’t agree, however, with treating problems and disorders with drugs alone, nor would I encourage talking therapy that doesn’t come from the perspective or (at minimum) the acknowledgment of biblical principles in a patient’s therapy. Medications are fine (and often needed), but “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16) is found in the gospel – not in my daily Celexa tablet – and the latter needs to serve and be subject to the former for biblical sanctification of the justified Christian to take place. Like the rest of you, of course, I’m still trying to understand how that works.

That said, I probably most appreciated chapter six – “Selecting a Mental Health Professional” – in thinking through the need for “carefully evaluating MHPs in your community before you refer a parishioner to one of them for help” (131). Coming from a small town, I had never really thought about the need to develop a network of counseling professionals for future pastoral ministry (the pastor was usually it – and for free!), but I want to think more about the idea in the context of my own personal (and still developing) convictions as to what (if any) steady partnership should exist between the pastor and the counselor in helping a person in all of life.

I don’t want to be overly dogmatic and say there isn’t a happy medium that could or should exist, but I also don’t want to arrive at a decision made only for pragmatic reasons (i.e. I just don’t have time to counsel everybody who wants/needs it, so I’ll just “farm them out”) instead of real ones.

Bracketology: A Study in Postmodernism?

In Humanity, Thought on March 14, 2007 at 2:00 am

Like many this time of year, I just filled out my NCAA brackets with completely uneducated guesses as to who will make the Final Four. When I say "uneducated," I'm not kidding: though well-versed in the fundamentals of basketball, I haven't watched a game all season.

I do this every March – make decisions based on personal impressions (and little else) of the names (not the teams) of the schools playing – with the ridiculous but enduring hope that this will be the year when the planets align, and I somehow correctly pick the winners of every single contest in the 64-team tournament.

It could happen, you know. It really could. But that's not my point.

Slate just did a short but interesting piece on The Enlightened Bracketologist: The Final Four of Everything, a book essentially being marketed as a new way to look at life:

"Bracketology—the practice of parsing people, places, and things into discrete one-on-one matchups to determine which of the two is superior or preferable—works because it is simple. It is a system that helps us make clearer and cleaner decisions about what is good, better, best in our world. What could be simpler than breaking down a choice into either/or, black or white, this one or that one?"

I'm not sure there's a better modern-day example of postmodernism. Whether it involves determining one's tournament winner, favorite movie, or most memorable historic event, the idea of continuously picking between two different choices right in front of you in search of which is better – all with little consideration of contextual reality, background story, or overarching meta-narrative – this is postmodernism.

Who knew March Madness could teach us so much?

Saving Daylight

In Pop Culture, Technology, Thought on March 11, 2007 at 9:46 pm

I’ll come right out and say it: I’m a fan of Daylight Saving Time. Part of my affinity is simply change (which I usually like); part is that it just makes sense for a lot of reasons, not the least of which that it buys me a little extra time in the morning as my kids adjust to trying getting up in the morning after playing later outside the night before (“falling back” always works against us).

“Springing forward” to make use of more daylight seems good stewardship to me, and I’m not just talking about energy. During the winter months, I always feel like my body is fighting against nature. Personally (and I have no way to prove this other than my own observation), my body line ups/feels better during DST. I don’t know why; it just does.

Maybe this is the farm kid in me talking, but if the sun’s up or out, there must still be work to do somewhere. Then again, that may be this farm kid’s father talking – he who, when I would lumber to the breakfast table at 8:05 in the morning to woof down breakfast before speeding to make an 8:15 school bell, would remind me “the day’s half over”.

In case you’re wondering, Dad always liked DST; Mom, not so much, as we were always eating dinner at 7:30 during planting season.

I know there are plenty of folks who have all kinds of reasons why they don’t like DST, but I’ve not heard one that seems legitimate. Maybe you have one?

Megan asked me last night if she thought our Macs would compensate for the earlier-than-usual time change this spring. Sure enough, they did (our PC is still an hour behind), which is just another reason to buy a Mac instead of a PC, not one to give up daylight saving time.

Progress: Destination or Journey?

In Thought on March 9, 2007 at 11:44 am

Earlier this week, Learner received an email from the seminary pertaining to the upcoming building project in the center of the small campus. It read:

“A construction trailer will arrive on campus this week, and then, in about 16 months, we hope to have a new 43,000-square-foot academic and administration building. The building will provide more classrooms with greater flexibility, unite our faculty and administrators under one roof, create a dedicated homiletics classroom, as well as a single center for students to interact with Financial Aid, the Business Office, the Registrar, Academic Planning, and Student Services.

Before we can enjoy the new building, however, we will all encounter some changes and potential inconveniences. Here are some of the changes to watch for:

– The official start date for construction is April 16, 2007.
– The main construction trailer will be staged on site either this Friday, March 9, or early next week. It will be located in the grassy area just north of the Archaeology building.
– Temporary fencing will be placed around the construction site for the safety of our children (and curious adults!). As of now, we expect that the fencing will go up after the first of April, but that could change.
– The current bus stop will also be moved for the safety of the children.
– There will be significant changes in traffic flow and parking. Much more information about this will follow.

Staff will see and hear about the traffic flow and parking changes at the All-Staff Meeting on March 26. Campus residents and commuting students will receive information about new traffic patterns, parking changes, the bus stop move, and much more when they return from Spring Break.”

As is typical for him in most things, Learner is all for progress – as a destination rather than a journey. The good news is the same as the bad news: if all goes according to schedule (his as well as the seminary’s), he should graduate roughly around the same time as the building is complete. Thus, he’ll get to experience all the hassles of the building project (listed above), and none of the benefits. And, if you remember, he doesn’t particularly do well with campus chaos.

All this, of course, is only if he gets through another 16 months…which means getting through Hebrew (and other classes involving biblical languages). Still, it’s only 16 months, and today is the first he’s really thought about that.

“Hard to believe,” he says. Indeed it is.

Learner & Anger: Growing Up or Growing Older?

In Thought on March 7, 2007 at 11:48 am

Like many, Learner does not like to think of himself as an angry person, but he recognizes that he is – or at least can be – given the right situation, threat, or (dare he say it?) desire. He wouldn’t say he grew up in an angry family, but he did see anger used occasionally as a tool and a means for either getting one’s way or not letting others have theirs. Is there a difference between the two? Regardless, anger was an instrument of control – of preference, of environment – and he has been too good a student of its many uses.

In thinking through this, Learner says, certain questions come to mind pertaining to his anger tendencies: Does his becoming so angry so quickly over so many trivial things in life contribute to the fact that he is hardly angry enough over injustices in the world that merit true righteous anger? Why does one of his daughters spilling milk at dinner (again) cause his blood to boil more than the reality of someone else’s daughter not having any milk to drink because of political embargoes? Why does someone – always the same guy! – talking loudly (and always at length) in the library make him more angry than the fact that someone else cannot speak because of governmental censorship laws in another country?

If, as one of Learner’s recent authors writes, “anger reminds us that we do not live in utopia,” the question begs asking: What kind of utopia must he want to live in if the reasons for his anger are so pathetically inconsequential? What does this tell him about his ideals and the extent to which he pursues them? His tendency, he says, is to act out – to make a scene, a point, or a big deal about an annoyance – making him the issue rather than the issue itself.

Sadly, he can’t say he’s grown as much in this area of sanctification as he would like, and Mrs. Learner and the kids are the ones who suffer most because of his “melancholic funks”. Unfortunately, this is some of what he was taught in his youth, and some of what he learned growing up.

“Or at least,” he says, “when I was growing ‘older'”.

Jerry Maguire Moment on Education

In Calling, Thought on March 7, 2007 at 2:00 am

One of my favorite scenes in the movie Jerry Maguire is at the very beginning of the film when, on a drunken binge, Jerry (played by Tom Cruise) writes and publishes his thoughts for all to read in an essay titled "The Things We Think and Do Not Say" concerning his profession as a sports attorney. (Note: If you have the time, read the essay, as it really is a wonderful piece written by Cameron Crowe, one of my favorite screenwriters.)

Though I wasn't drunk, nor did I write this all in one sitting, here is one of my own Jerry Maguire moments on the topic of education, submitted as part of a recent teaching application asking for my philosophy of education:

"Daniel 1:17 says, 'As for these four youths (Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah), God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.'

This passage has always been a motivating one for me concerning my own education, as well as that of others. Because I believe that God is the source of all true education, I believe that true education is to cover all of life, with the end result being not merely good grades, but adequate understanding and willing submission for the sake of the Kingdom.

I believe that good education cannot happen without inspiration; that it is made up of both formal and informal instruction; that it is to be as experiential as it informational; that it is not enough to teach what to think, but rather how to think; that it requires both individual discipline and community accountability; and that indeed, 'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.' (Proverbs 1:7)

My personal feeling is that students only respond to what is asked of them, and my observation is that we often don’t ask enough, at least in terms of deeper things. Our culture certainly asks (demands) of their time, their money, etc., but the culture will never ask to care about them, and I believe having the confidence to ask for this privilege – and then honoring it by being trustworthy – is one to which students respond.

In light of this, three practical teaching goals I strive to reach in teaching are to 1) avoid any appearance of deception; 2) use language that is both age- and audience-appropriate; and 3) teach application as the inevitable outcome of good biblical theology. In addition, cultural awareness with the goal of being conversant in a variety of topics students are interested in is a good idea, as is the creation of shared experiences that model acceptance and understanding alongside standing for truth and offering it to others."
I could always write more, but with regard to teaching and learning, this is the gist for me.

The Immigration Issue

In Politics, Thought on March 6, 2007 at 5:15 pm

My friend, Ronnie, asked me to sign the following with regard to immigration reform. I did so wholeheartedly, as this approach seems the best middle-of-the-road option in a land of dehumanizing extremes. (For more from one of the shapers of this initiative, click here.)

Dear President George W. Bush and Member of Congress,

Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform represents a coalition of Christian organizations, churches, and leaders from across the theological and political spectrum united in support of comprehensive immigration reform. Despite our differences on other issues, we are working together to see comprehensive immigration reform enacted this year because we share a set of common moral and theological principles that compel us to love and care for the stranger among us, including the following:

  • We believe that all people, regardless of national origin, are made in the “Image of God” and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect (Genesis 1:26-27, 9:6).
  • We believe there is an undeniable Biblical responsibility to love and show compassion for the stranger among us (Deuteronomy 10:18-19, Leviticus 19:33-34, Matthew 25:31-46).
  • We believe that immigrants are our neighbors, both literally and figuratively, and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves and show mercy to neighbors in need (Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:25-37).
  • We believe in the rule of law, but we also believe that we are to oppose unjust laws and systems that harm and oppress people made in God’s Image, especially the vulnerable (Isaiah 10:1-4, Jeremiah 7:1-7, Acts 5:29, Romans 13:1-7).

The current U.S. immigration system is broken and now is the time for a fair and compassionate solution. We think it is entirely possible to protect our borders while establishing a viable, humane, and realistic immigration system consistent with our American values that increases national security while not threatening the livelihoods of Americans. The Biblical principles above call us to support comprehensive immigration reform legislation that includes the following elements:

  • Border enforcement and protection initiatives that are consistent with humanitarian values while allowing the authorities to enforce the law and implement American immigration policy;
  • Reforms in our family-based immigration system that reduce the waiting times for separated families to be safely reunited and maintain the constitutionally guaranteed rights of birthright citizenship and the ability of immigrants to earn naturalization;
  • An opportunity for all immigrant workers and their families already in the U.S. to come out of the shadows and pursue the option of an earned path towards permanent legal status and citizenship upon satisfaction of specific criteria;
  • A viable guest worker program that creates legal avenues for workers and their families to enter our country and work in a safe, legal, and orderly manner with their rights and due process fully protected; and
  • A framework to examine and ascertain solutions to the root causes of migration, such as economic disparities between sending and receiving nations.

Immigration reform that incorporates these elements, rejects anti-immigrant and nativist measures, and strengthens our American values will enrich the vitality of America and advance the common good. We stand together in calling upon President Bush and Congress to seek humane and holistic immigration reform within this legislative year.

The Jesus Diet

In Thought on March 5, 2007 at 2:00 am

Alastair Roberts at Adversaria has given up blogging for Lent. However, instead of going Garver for 40 days, he's offering folks the opportunity to guest blog on his behalf. He writes:

"One of the principal purposes of this Lenten project is to be a means of sharing some of our perspectives on the public ministry of Christ that could be of encouragement for others."

As I enjoyed my mini-break from blogging last week, I sent him a piece for his consideration.

Day 11 – The Jesus Diet is up if you'd like to read it.

Brain Holiday: Postponed

In Church, Humanity, Seminary on March 3, 2007 at 4:27 pm

After a semi-tough academic week (midterms) and coming into our first totally clear (no immediate deadlines) weekend in a month, I was looking forward to today being a bit of a “brain holiday”. After Friday’s chapel at Covenant, however, it is not to be.

Dan Zink, my Marriage and Family professor from last semester, interviewed visiting lecturer, Diane Langberg, a faculty member at Westminster Theological Seminary and Reformed Episcopal Seminary (both in Philadelphia), and a practicing psychologist whose clinical expertise includes 30 years of working with sexual trauma surivors and clergy (many of whom have inflicted such trauma on their churches). Dr. Langberg speaks internationally on topics specifically related to women, children, sex trafficking, and other such abuses all over the world, and Covenant is sponsoring a conference with Dr. Langberg this weekend called Behind Closed Doors: The Abuse of Power in Marriage, the Church, and Other Relationships.

In addition, this coming Tuesday, Covenant and Memorial are co-sponsoring an evening presentation/Q&A with speaker Deborah Dortzbach, author of The AIDS Crisis: What We Can Do. Dortzbach is World Relief‘s international director HIV/AIDS programs, and mobilizes and equips the local church to promote and provide AIDS awareness, sexual education for youth, orphan support, and much more. (For anyone interested in going, the event is Tuesday, March 6, at 7 p.m. at Memorial. Admission is free.)

What do either of these have to do with my weekend? Physically, nothing – I have no plans to spend another weekend taking a class (I did that in January and again two weeks ago in February), and Megan has her Teaching and Learning class on Tuesday nights, so I’ll be home with the ladies (er, that is, my four female children) and unable to make the discussion.

But mentally (and hopefully even spiritually), I have been thinking about injustice in the world a lot already this weekend, with plenty of horrible statistics and real illustrations of evil’s awful attrocities floating around in my head. I’ve written about this kind of thing before here and here, but am newly-reminded that having written about it once or twice doesn’t mean I should stop writing about it now…or trying to do something about it soon.

Sure, it doesn’t make for the most relaxing of weekends (at least mentally), but in the midst of our physical comfort and lower-middle class existence here in the richest and freest country in the world, I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing.

More to come (I hope).

Wildwood Wisdom (part 4)

In Thought on March 1, 2007 at 6:07 am

Okay, last day of high schoolers being wise (thanks for enjoying/enduring):

“The wise man lets his hard work speak,
but the fool attempts to heighten his position in the eyes of others.
For the wise man knows that his actions will display his intelligence,
while the fool does not trust his own ability.
He who keeps his success to himself will earn more,
but the braggart shall gain nothing.”

“A stressed out mind will never enjoy life,
but one who lives his life to the fullest has a mind of peace.
We fill our lives with many things,
but eventually all of them will turn to dust.”

“Papier mache takes forever to dry,
but an oven can solve that problem.”

Anybody care to contribute your own proverb? Feel the freedom in the comments.